Before the paint was dry in the 12 newest guest rooms at The Georges, they were booked. The boutique hotel’s latest expansion in the former Sheridan Livery Inn adds a fifth historic building to The Georges’ portfolio in downtown Lexington.
Six weeks earlier, five elegant bathtubs stood parked on the dance floor. Nearby on the bar, cans of fresh paint mingled with boxes of lighting and bath faucets. Even the name was undecided but, as owner Ann Parker Gottwald told a visitor, lighting up with a smile, “we’ll be ready!”
The race was on. Swatch boards in each guest room detailed the wallpaper, fabric, and furnishings that Gottwald and artist Sunny Goode, a certified color consultant, had selected. From the beginning, the pair have collaborated to create the hotel’s comfortably elegant style.
To the first wave of guests at The Georges at The Livery, Gottwald placed a phone call: “I told them if something wasn’t right, we’d fix it, and we hoped they’d understand.” Guests were charmed by her candor. It’s the easygoing warmth felt everywhere at The Georges, and it starts at the top.
An Unlikely Team
More than once, she’s been advised to hire “a big-time interior designer,” as Gottwald puts it, to burnish the hotel’s brand. Instead, she conjures the feeling of home—only better—in each of The Georges’ 33 guestrooms. From the beginning, they agreed, no two rooms would look exactly alike.
“It’s the bedroom you never knew you wanted,” says Goode. “The rooms are visually balanced to create an energy that’s both calm and inspiring. It’s a timeless elegance. Ann Parker is always willing to try fresh ideas that aren’t trendy.” The pair curate bespoke items—many sourced from small purveyors—to create a look that’s more showhouse than showroom.
Far-flung travel also informs their design. “Ann Parker has stayed in incredible boutique hotels all over the world,” Goode says. “When she sees something she likes, we break it down to translate that look for The Georges.”
“When they stay here, people say they feel like they’re coming home to visit,” Gottwald notes. Beds are made with Frette linens, freshly ironed. Towel warming racks and heated floors in the bathrooms radiate comfort. “The construction group thought I was crazy to do all that,” she says, “but people love it. And I really find a lot of pleasure in making people happy.”
“It Just Took Off”
With support from her husband Teddy, a Virginia Military Institute (VMI) alum, Gottwald opened The Georges in 2014 with 18 guest rooms divided between two historic buildings. The couple recognized Lexington’s need for hotel rooms when two of their five sons attended VMI. The name honors VMI and Washington and Lee University, referencing three well-known Georges: Washington, Marshall, and Patton. “We didn’t realize how strong the demand would be,” says Gottwald. “It just took off.”
In 2019 she added The Patton Room, transforming the former auto showroom next door into an event space that seats 100 for dinner, or 200 for cocktails. In 2020, she converted a string of legal offices into Lawyers Row, adding three new guest rooms. And when the historic Sheridan Livery Inn came up for sale in 2022, she seized a third opportunity to expand.
For The Livery’s design, Gottwald recruited Jay Hugo, principal architect of 3North in Richmond. “What Ann Parker has achieved at The Georges is remarkable,” says Hugo, who has worked with the couple on multiple design projects. “She has such a strong vision, which is rare enough—but these projects also take tremendous commitment. Ann Parker develops the details through a combination of intuitive design sense and serious boots-on-the-ground legwork.”
Color, Texture, and Comfort
Over time, Gottwald has hit on a winning formula: “In the Livery,” Goode notes, “we only wallpaper the back wall in each guest room. If we papered all four, you’d feel dizzy.” Bedsteads, often upholstered in bold fabrics, are dressed with throw pillows. And just like home, a coverlet is folded at the foot.
In The Livery’s high-ceilinged rooms, Goode introduced flying arch canopy beds crafted by Worthen, a Virginia company. “With tall ceilings, we wanted to balance the proportions. These beds are sophisticated, local, and come with a 200-year warranty,” she marvels.
Still, Gottwald credits the suppliers who worked miracles to make their parents’ weekend opening possible. “The unsung heroes are Worthen and Lee Industries,” Gottwald says. “They delivered our beds and upholstered furniture, as promised, in early September.”
A pop of color—from a tasseled throw, nightstand, or painting—energizes the rooms. Textures and shapes vary. And accessories, like coffee table books, complete the feel of a thoughtfully appointed home. Guests at The Georges will also find a small side table next to a comfortable upholstered chair. Because, Gottwald says, “you always need a place to put your cup of coffee or glass of wine.” TheGeorges.com